Not enough diversity on Canadian television, report says

OTTAWA—The portrayal of Canada’s diversity on television has improved over the last decade, but there’s still a lack of programming representing people with disabilities and the Indigenous population in particular, according to a research report prepared for the country’s TV regulator.The findings were provided to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in March, shortly before Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly launched public consultations to examine how the federal government could support the creation of Canadian content, but were released only last week on the government’s public opinion and polling database.The report, based on questions posed to a half dozen focus group sessions in mid-January, found there was a “widespread impression” among participants that Canada’s broadcasters have improved their portrayal of certain segments of the population in their programming. But near equal numbers indicated that, compared with visible minorities, women and members of the LGBTQ community, they saw fewer TV shows portraying Indigenous people and the disabled.Research firm Phoenix SPI, which conducted the focus groups in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax, stressed that the views of participants could not be extrapolated to represent the beliefs of Canada’s overall population. Rather, the findings were a snapshot of how specific groups of people from divergent backgrounds saw themselves reflected in the broadcasting system.Participants were asked to rate their level of agreement or disagreement with the statement: “Canadian television is becoming a mirror in which all Canadians can see themselves.”Article Continued Below“Just over half expressed disagreement with it compared to just over one-quarter who agreed with it,” said the report.The CRTC was widely criticized in May when, as part of the five-year licence renewals for broadcasters Bell, Corus and Rogers, it set minimum funding requirements for “programs of national interest” at 5 per cent of the licence holder’s revenues. That’s the amount the broadcasters are required to contribute to the creation of Canadian dramas, documentaries, scripted series and awards shows honouring Canadian culture.Prior to the licence renewals, the trio of broadcasters had each spent up to 10 per cent of revenues on such programming.